|Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
Starring: John Cho, Kal Penn, Anthony Anderson, Malin Akerman
Director: Danny Leiner
It’s hard to believe that the director of “Dude, Where’s My Car?” is still working. While the protagonists of that particular film found their car in the end, Daniel Leiner never found much of an audience with his out-of-this-world story about two of the dumbest men in film history. The movie had its moments, but the outlandish script went sour in no time and now, “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” dares to reinvent Leiner’s outspoken comedies of pure stupidity. Striking back at Hollywood in the spirit of Cheech and Chong, the movie introduces a pair of unlikely stars in what just might be one of the best films of the year.
The story is based on two stoner roommates, so it’s kept fairly simple. Harold (John Cho, “American Pie”) is a Korean investment banker who can never muster the courage to speak his mind, and Kumar (Kal Penn, “Van Wilder”) is an Indian med school applicant who can never keep his mouth shut. After smoking up in their apartment one night, the two guys get a serious case of the munchies and there’s only one thing that will complete their night: you guessed it, White Castle. Roaming New Jersey for an existing joint still in business to satisfy their craving, Harold and Kumar get sidetracked on their mission for the bite-sized hamburgers by a rabid raccoon, a pot stop at Princeton and a group of “extreme” skateboard hooligans, to name a few.
“Harold and Kumar” is loaded with the kind of gross-out slapstick audiences can expect to find in more recent comedies, but it also includes enough clever humor to make even the most grounded individual respect the finished product. With the spotlight on the two minorities, the script also reaches new objectives and accomplishes more as a social satire than most serious films have in the past decade.
It’s nice to finally see excellent supporting actors starring in a movie of their own, and the two virtual unknowns create the perfect team in their debut as Hollywood stars. In the kind of film that usually relies on the performances of its pop-in cameos – and there is quite a handful, including Anthony Anderson, Ethan Embry, Neil Patrick Harris, Luis Guzman, Ryan Reynolds and Fred Willard – Cho and Penn keep control of the wheel the whole way through, never missing a beat on their unadulterated wit as they continue to push the moral envelope in their search for a late-night snack. Unlike the White Castle in the film, theaters aren’t open 24-hours-a-day, so hurry up and check this out before it’s too late.
For every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction, but the "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" Extreme Unrated DVD release keeps the ball rolling for one of the year's biggest surprise hits. Aside from offering the uncensored version of the film in a 1.85:1 video transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track, the single-disc release includes a few hours of special features and hilarious interactive menus that show the duo arguing over the audience's failure to choose an option.
The special features aren't the greatest around, but it's a nice collection of bonus material that should at least please fans of the film. With three different audio commentaries leading the pack, the disc also includes a backseat interview with stars John Cho and Kal Penn, a sound effects featurette entitled "The Art of the Fart," eight short interviews with supporting cast members, a short featurette on the making of the CG-based Land of Burgers, eight deleted scenes and the film's theatrical trailer. Most of the material is too short for its own good, but "A Trip to the Land of Burgers" and the various deleted/alternate scenes are fairly entertaining. If you're looking for a good reason to pick-up this DVD release though, the film itself should be a good enough motive to experience one of the funniest films of the year.